The New Student Voice (by Matthew Roberts)


Create a newsletter with the whole class covering a current issue or social justice movement.


The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC (pronounced “snick”) was an organization comprised mostly of students who worked to end segregation and oppression in the American South. Unlike other activist groups, SNCC operated as a collective, meaning that they made decisions as a group rather than following the instructions of a single leader. This meant that they differed from groups like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, both of which had Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. as their leader. While they didn’t have a leader, they had help from veteran activist Ella Baker, who helped to found the group in 1960 and gave guidance. Much of the work was done in sub-committees, specialized groups within SNCC that are dedicated to specific tasks such as finances, communications, and coordination. An important project from SNCC was The Student Voice, a newsletter that was written and produced by members of the group and distributed to other civil rights groups and communities in order to spread SNCC’s message of non-violence and provide updates to the group’s progress.


Students will need to organize amongst themselves in order to pick a topic that they would wish to write about. It is recommended that student be able to divide the work amongst themselves, with each student working on a different section of the project. If the students reach an impasse, the teacher should step in and provide oversight that would aid the decision. Otherwise the teacher should decide the roles in question. Students should be expected to keep up to date on current events. Provide the students with


Students will learn to work together in order to send a message as a group


  1. How can writing a newsletter benefit a social cause?
  2. Why did SNCC choose to make a newsletter?
  3. How can you distribute material so that it reaches the most people?
  4. How can a group form and outline it’s ideology for others to understand?
  5. How can student activists gain legitimacy amongst adult activists?
  6. How does a student activist movement, or any activist movement, get organized?
  7. What are important issues that are facing our world today?


  1. Collective: (adj) Done by people acting as a group. (n) a cooperative enterprise.
  2. Grass Roots Organization: (n) Often at the local level, as many volunteers in the community give their time to support the local party, which can lead to helping the national party.
  3. Civil Rights Movement: (n) The national effort made by black people and their supporters in the 1950s and 1960s to eliminate segregation and gain equal rights.
  4. (Black) Freedom Struggle: (n) The continually ongoing struggle comprised of many organizations and activists working towards an end to the oppression of Black Americans. Differs from the term the term “Civil Rights Movement” because there is no clear-cut beginning or end date.
  5. (Racial) Segregation: (n) Separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, riding on a bus, or in the rental or purchase of a home.
  6. Oppression: (n) Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. The state of being subject to unjust treatment or control.
  7. Activist: (n) A person who campaigns for some kind of social change.
  8. Sub-Committee: (n) A committee composed of some members of a larger committee, board, or other body and reporting to it.


  1. First the students must decide on a cause that they wish to write about. It is recommended that the teacher come prepared with newspapers, television news clips, and other materials for ideas as the level of knowledge of current events among students may be mixed.
  2. Students must divide the tasks of planning, writing, and researching amongst themselves with oversight from the teacher.
  3. Class time should be dedicated to the groups work with the teacher providing oversight and answering questions.
  4. Once the newsletter is completed, it should be distributed. Give the students the option to distribute beyond the school grounds, but be sure that they have a clear plan so none of the copies are lost.
  5. Print as many copies as school resources permit, or as many copies seem reasonable in terms of the class’ distribution plan.
  6. Distribute the newsletters according to the plan that was decided upon in step 4.
  7. Have students report the response to the newsletter as well as sharing their own responses to the project. This should happen in a class discussion format.


  1. Timothy Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1999)
  2. Sokol, Jason. All Eyes are Upon US: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn. New York, New York. Basic Books 2014.


  1. Link to a collection of the SNCC newsletter that have been scanned online: Link
  2. News articles for inspiration. These can be newspapers, online articles, or tv news clips.


  1. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
  2. Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in a diverse format and media (e.g. visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  3. Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
  4. Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event noting discrepancies among sources.
    1. Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content
      1. Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences the claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
      2. Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counter claims in a discipline-appropriate form that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.
      3. Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
      4. Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
      5. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from or supports the argument presented
      6. Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.
        1. Introduce a topic and organize complex ideas, concepts, and information so that each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
        2. Develop the topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.
        3. Use varied transitions and sentence structures to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.
        4. Use precise language, domain-specific vocabulary and techniques such as metaphor, simile, and analogy to manage the complexity of the topic; convey a knowledgeable stance in a style that responds to the discipline and context as well as to the expertise of likely readers.
        5. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation provided (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).
      7. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience
      8. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
      9. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.
      10. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
      11. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the specific task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.
      12. Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
      13. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

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